Argentina sinks Chinese-flagged vessel suspected of illegal fishing

A fishing trawler flying the Chinese flag was sunk by Argentine defense vessels after being caught fishing illegally within the country’s exclusive economic zone, according to media reports and a press release from the Argentine Prefectura Naval, or coast guard.

According to the press release, after the Argentine coast guard ship Derbes discovered the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 fishing off the coast Puerto Madryn, Chubut Province on Wednesday, 14 March, it contacted the vessel by radio and eventually attempted to board it. However, the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 ignored all attempts at communication, turned off its lights and fled to international waters.

The Derbes then fired warning shots in the area of the trawler, which in response turned toward its pursuer and repeatedly attempted ramming maneuvers. During this engagement, the Argentine ship fired at the fishing vessel, eventually causing it to begin to sink. The crew then abandoned the ship. Four crew members, including the captain, were rescued by the Derbes, while the remaining crew boarded two other Chinese-flagged vessels which had arrived at the scene during the confrontation.

In a statement attributed to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, posted on the ministry’s website, Lu said the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 was approached by the Argentine coast guard at 9 a.m. local time on 14 March. After a chase of several hours, the ship was shot at causing a leak in the hull that led to the trawler’s sinking. Lu added that four crewmembers of the boat were captured by the Argentine forces while 28 other crewmembers were rescued by nearby Chinese fishing boats, with no reports of death or injury.

“Attaching high importance to this incident, the State Council made important instructions,” Lu said in the statement. “The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Argentina have lodged urgent representations with the Argentine side, expressing serious concerns and demanding that the Argentine side conduct a thorough investigation, inform the Chinese side of the details, ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese crew, and take effective measures to avoid any repetition of such an incident."

A video of the event, captured by Argentine forces, was posted on YouTube Wednesday.

In a related event, Argentine news outlets reported Friday, 11 March that another Chinese-flagged ship had also been caught fishing illegally in the South American country’s sovereign waters. The boat, the squid-fishing vessel Hua Li 8, was detected 29 February, ignored all communication from the Argentine coast guard, including warning shots, and fled for four days, first to Uruguayan waters, then returning to Argentine seas and finally escaping into international waters on 3 March.


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